The Kemetic Round Table (KRT) is a blogging project aimed at providing practical, useful information for modern Kemetic religious practitioners. For all the entries relating to this particular topic, take a peek here.
Inadequacy is one of those things that tends to hit human beings at the least opportune time. You can be in the middle of doing a huge ritual and that voice in the back of your head starts whispering things about how you must be doing it wrong. Or, you can be about to fall asleep and that voice pipes up about things that you could never actually successfully do because that voice is a douchecanoe. But, we all have that voice. We all have those whispers that feed our poor self-esteem and our inadequate imagery. This imagery and belief about how inadequate we are to the gods, and in my case, to the lwa, may in fact be completely fucking wrong.
I will be honest here, my inadequacies don’t necessarily translate over to my religious life. There are moments, don’t get me wrong, when I feel like what I’m offering the gods – inadequate. There are moments when I feel my attitude – inadequate. There are moments when I feel like my rituals – inadequate. I think everyone has at least one moment, at some time in their life, where they think that what they are doing, saying, thinking, and believing doesn’t measure up to some invisible yard stick. I’m not perfect. In fact, I am pulling so much stuff out of my butt about 99% of the time that I literally can tell you that I have no fucking clue what the hell is going on in my religious life about as often. But, when thinking about this topic, I realized… I really don’t feel very inadequate with the netjer I have relationships with. I know I’m not perfect, but… does it matter?
You see, I wonder if the reason we feel inadequate is because we believe that our gods have some invisible servant/devotee/child image of us that they measure us up to. In working with all the gods I have going – and more, apparently, on the way – I have to say that I don’t really worry about it. If I’m in the middle of doing something that feels right, such as celebrating a festival or creating a spell or working up heka, then I’m not necessarily going to let myself stop long enough to doubt myself. Before the event, I may ponder and hem and haw about what to do. After the event, I may mutter and moan about something I forgot to do. However, when I’m in the thick of my religious life and all that entails, I’m not really, really, really worried about whether or not I am fulfilling my duties with ineptitude or with satisfactory actions.
Here’s the thing, each of these gods is in my life for a reason. I know this isn’t necessarily the case with all other practitioners out there, but in my case, each of these deities showed up with an ulterior motive. Djehuti is around to remind me of my dream of writing. Aset is here to help me get over my magix issues. Hetheru is here because I wanted a mother/home deity in my home. Sekhmet is here because that’s her bag. (And personal.) None of my gods worry about me being perfect. None of my gods harp about how I am a tool. All of the Bigger Picture stuff that I discuss? It’s not made to make me feel like I’m inadequate for the tasks they want me for, but that one day, I will be awesome enough to be that tool.
They also knew, coming in, that I had faults. They knew that I was sexually anorexic or asexual. They knew that I was not willing to heal myself from my traumas. They knew they I had nothing but bad experiences with magic and thought all experiences would be the same. They knew that I had a dream about being a writer that I had given up on. They knew that I was a fledgling in the religion area. They knew that I had no fucking clue what the hell I was doing. They knew that I was sassy, importunate, and bitchy. And yet, they all still showed up, entered my life, and ready to work. I’m not being built up by them for some magical purpose except to live to my full potential. And that’s all they want from me. In a manner of speaking, we could assume all this Bigger Picture stuff, all of this shadow work, all of these side projects have the ultimate goal of fulfilling my intense desire to live in ma’at.
I will admit, I’m extremely surprised by everything that I’m writing. Of all the people I know, I’m the most nervous, the most anxious, and the one with the least amount of self-confidence. If we had been doing this blogging project even a year ago, I would have said, “I am not what they need. They need to find someone else. I’m just a nothing and a nobody and unsuitable for whatever they need.” But as I sat down, ready to explain to everyone that feeling like you don’t measure up to some invisible yard stick is bollocks, but it’s fine to feel that way… I realized that after a very long time of struggle, I’m finally comfortable with my Kemeticism.
And I think, at some point, everyone gets to that point. The thing is that may not necessarily mean that you, or I, will ever be “perfect.”
Look, let’s be frank. I’m not an expert. I don’t know what’s best. I just know what has worked for me. And I also know that how I’m living and working with my gods is probably entirely off-base with how they did it in ancient Egypt. So, I suppose that from an outsider’s perspective, I am inadequately measuring up to the historical standard. And you know what? That is just fine by me. There’s a reason I am recon-slanted and not a full-fledged reconstructionist. It’s great to have a basis in history, but it’s really stupid to try and measure myself to a standard that I cannot visually see and will never visually see. Besides, if the gods wanted the same thing they had in antiquity, don’t you think they would have, en masse, given us the information necessary to emulate an ancient practice?
It really doesn’t matter what other people are doing or how they are doing it. It really shouldn’t matter if you will be judged by those other people. Of course, you will be, just as I am and all the rest of my Kemetic friends are. It is human nature to make snap judgements and judge others based on those perceptions. And that’s perfectly acceptable for each human being who does it. But, you know what? That’s complete shit. As they tell my son at the library, Everyone can play in their own way and that’s okay.
And I’ll let you in on a little secret… The above phrase? About playing? That’s a good one for religion, too.
Suffice it to say, when it comes to feeling inadequate, most human beings go through this at varying points in their lives. Occasionally, it is mundane and the moment passes. Other times, it is religious in origin and the moment passes. In some other extreme cases, it can be a mix thereof and the moment just kind of lingers. Everyone goes through that.
Look, today while I was at work? I kept remonstrating in my head about things I really had no way of fixing, trying to make myself more competent for the next time some shitty shit falls my way. Consciously, I knew that the items in question were out of my hands. Consciously, I knew that no matter how much “I suck” feels I was having, I’m incredibly awesome at my job and really, I should always be reminded about how awesome I am. However, knowing I’m good at my job doesn’t stop me from feeling like I suck at everything and that I only ever handle things improperly. This is incorrect in every way and I did everything I could to deliver good customer service. However, we all just have those times where you’re feeling overwhelming and incapable.
The moment passes.
Sometimes, it requires more than a deep breath. Sometimes, it may require a long bitch fest, a stiff drink, and/or harsh music at ear-drum abusing levels. Whatever floats your boat and however you take care of the situation is all you. But, sometimes, the feelings are going to happen no matter who you are, how awesome you are, and no matter the situation. Human beings tend to want perfection, but we can’t always deliver. And in those moments, all I can say, it may just be best to take a step back, listen to some angry music, and wax poetic about how much you hate the world.
If nothing else, it’ll make you feel better for a little while.